Dance Your Blues Away.

On June 18th, I traveled to Shirakawa(about 1 hour by Shinkansen) in order to see some Classical Japanese Dance or 舞踊(Buyo). You may be wondering why on Earth I'd take a long trip just to see some dancing, unless there was a woman involved. Well, of course, there was a woman involved. A college friend of mine, Motoko, whose hobby just happens to be Buyo, invited me to see her perform. Little knowing what I was getting myself into, I made the journey and this is what I saw...

(Unfortunately, photos were Verboten, so any images were taken with my cell phone.)
This is a pic of the stage backdrop before the show.

Once the curtains opened, on the left were 5 shimasen players, 5 drums, 5 chorus members, a flautist and 8 back-up dancers in blue skullcaps. These were all the traditional band players (described earlier on May 29th), but I must say I enjoyed their performance much more than what I'd heard before. I think it was the chanting of the chorus in harmony that added to the pleasure.

In one of those rare occasions, I was one of the youngest in the crowd. Everyone else was either twice my age or a family member of a performer. Dodging the hair of the elderly lady in front of me, I got to see Motoko in all her glory.

She first came out in a beautiful red kimono, which during the course of her dance, turned into a white/ light green one (she had 2 old guys help unwrap her). I suspect that she was representing cherry blossoms.
Next up was a lovely lavender kimono and she used what seemed like large red mushroom caps as props, which she whirled around.
Then she wore different lavender kimono and used a hand towel as a prop. I think she was representing the rushing wind.
And finally she wore a lavish red kimono and danced with a folding hand-fan. She tossed it and spun it and eventually she changed into this gorgeous silver kimono whereupon she ascended a staircase to sit astride a huge bell.

My words do NOT do justice to the visual spectacle I witnessed. The kimono were simply breathtaking, her movements serene & poised and the entire ordeal was magnificent. I wish I could understand the chanting so I could get a better idea of what each dance represented, but I was enrapt in the grandeur of the production. Hopefully, Motoko can send me some photos of her performance so you can get a better idea of what I'm talking about.

Tomorrow, I'll write about some history of Buyo and describe a few more of the performances.

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